July 23, 2024

The sudden resignation of Vice President Sara Duterte as secretary of education does not at all weaken the uphill bid to make quality education accessible for every Filipino learner.
Rather, it now poses a challenge to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to appoint to his Cabinet a truly qualified replacement for the void left by Duterte.
At the same time, Duterte’s resignation as vice chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict is also being considered by many quarters to be the final nail in the coffin of the once formidable Uniteam that solidified voters from Luzon to Mindanao in the latest presidential elections.
While Filipinos remain baffled over Duterte’s real reasons for resigning, Malacañang’s quick acceptance of her resignation says that perhaps the “marriage of convenience” is now really over. It speaks volumes about the difficulty of sustaining harmony between the Duterte and Marcos political power blocs with their increasingly tenuous partisan relations, especially in the wake of recent events.
The resignation came after weeks of being unresponsive to media queries on her stand on China’s increased aggression in the West Philippine Sea and controversies surrounding Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators.
It also came just as the Philippines ranked at the bottom of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) where Filipino students were found to have one of the weakest creative thinking skills in the world.
Earlier, the Vice President’s father, former President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies, chided the Marcos government on its plan to rejoin the International Criminal Court that is investigating the bloody war on drugs of the past administration.
Given the unfortunate circumstances that have led to a fallout, the Marcos government now has the liberty to appoint, with circumspect, a new secretary to his Cabinet to effectively lead DepEd.
But some information has it that Malacañang already had someone in mind to assume the DepEd top post even before Duterte formally announced her resignation from the Cabinet and as DepEd secretary.
As the lead agency in shaping the nation’s future by nurturing young minds, the next DepEd secretary must live up to the mammoth task of uplifting and overhauling the quality of the country’s education.
Among the issues and concerns faced by DepEd are inadequate facilities or lack of basic infrastructure; insufficient teaching materials; teacher shortage and training due to being underpaid and undervalued, leading to a high turnover rate and difficulty in attracting new talent; curriculum issues, as the current one is now a subject of debates about its relevance and comprehensiveness; digital divide, as global shift towards digital learning has highlighted the stark digital divide within the country; policy implementation since even well-intentioned policies often fall short of delivering due to bureaucratic inefficiencies, lack of coordination, and corruption, among other problems. These problems are exacerbated in rural and underserved areas.
Meanwhile, Filipinos must stay vigilant as these recent political developments may be signs of laying the groundwork for the 2025 midterm elections, or of both camps setting up the stage for a power struggle.
We share the observation of a national teachers’ group which claimed the power struggle between two camps “serves none of the real interests of the people.”
But for now, Filipinos pray that whoever is appointed to be in command of DepEd can ensure that no child is left behind in a pursuit for world-class quality education in the country.